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Jonathan Bernstein

In the Senate, 51 Votes Is a World Apart From 50

Democrats will control the chamber regardless, but they will be able to approve many more nominees with just one more senator.

Even in a runoff, every vote matters.

Even in a runoff, every vote matters.

Photographer: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg

No matter who wins tomorrow’s runoff election for US Senate in Georgia, Democrats will still control the Senate. And with a Republican majority in the House, any significant legislation in the next Congress will require bipartisan deals anyway. So whether there are 50 Democratic senators, as there are now — or 51, as there would be if Senator Raphael Warnock wins re-election — wouldn’t seem to matter all that much.

Don’t be fooled. One additional Senate seat would make a huge difference for Democrats — for judicial and executive-branch nominations, for oversight, maybe even for legislating.